Ben Woolfitt 'Blue Passage' solo exhibition shows new paintings and drawings in NY

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Ben Woolfitt 'Blue Passage' solo exhibition shows new paintings and drawings in NY
Installation Detail: Ben Woolfitt, Blue Passage. David Richard Gallery, 2023. Copyright © Ben Woolfitt, Courtesy David Richard Gallery. Photograph by Yao Zu Lu.

NEW YORK, NY.- David Richard Gallery is showing Blue Passage, a solo exhibition and debut of new paintings and drawings by artist Ben Woolfitt in his first presentation with the gallery. Always exploring non-objective abstraction and inspired by Color Field painting, Woolfitt’s process-driven paintings begin and end with surface and color. These newest works start with waves and swaths of gesso that provide the first step in his process. Applying pigment in layers with each mark and gesture in response to the prior additions, the colors and imagery organically evolve filling the canvas and running off the edges in every direction. The variety of media, including acrylic paint, dry pigment, metallic leaf, and graphite and the canvas filling, all over painting approach makes the work dynamic, full of intrigue with the color and imagery extending beyond the canvas edges.

Depending upon the range of palettes, from black and white, to blue, black and white, or black and gold, with occasional additions of green or red, each painting having sprays of colors in the grounds or moving toward the surface with clusters of marks evokes astral skies, the cosmos, or nautical vegetation and creatures deep in the sea.

The presentation also includes a selection of new drawings taken from Woolfitt’s daily practice in his New York, East Village studio. Each drawing is a unique creation, not a prelude to nor a study for any particular painting. Aesthetically, very much re- lated to the paintings, each rendering is created using the technique of ‘frottage’ that captures the impressions of screens, wire mesh, or crumpled materials behind the drawing paper and provides the surface texture and imagery after rubbing the surfaces

with graphite, dry pigment, and silver leaf. However, while the media may be common between the canvas versus paper sup- ports, the imagery develops on the paper with a vision or intentionality in mind that explores fissures and eruptions, horizon lines, repetition of forms, and large passages of color. Woolfitt’s drawings and numerous drawing books that record decades of his visual explorations were prominently featured in his recent solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto from July 2021 through March 2022.

A new book with an essay by Donald Kuspit will follow the exhibition. Kuspit has written two other books extensively investigat- ing and discussing Woolfitt’s studio practice spanning five decades of his paintings and drawings.

Since its inception in 2010, David Richard Gallery has produced museum quality exhibitions that feature Post War abstraction in the US. The presentations have addressed specific decades and geographies as well as certain movements and tendencies. While the gallery has long been recognized as an important proponent of post-1960s abstraction—including both the influential pioneers as well as a younger generation of practitioners in this field—in keeping with this spirit of nurture and development the gallery also presents established artists who embrace more gestural and representational approaches to the making of art as well as young emerging artists.

David Richard Gallery, LLC
Ben Woolfitt: Blue Passage
November 29th, 2023 - December 22nd, 2023

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